Ever come to a book a little too late? I have. When I was working on the promotional angle for Greenville, I sure could have used Jeff VanderMeer’s “Booklife,” which has a fine section on practical tips for book promotion in the internet era.
Jeff splits a writer’s Booklife into two distinct sections – a Public Booklife and a Private Booklife, with the public aspect being the promotion and interactions with fans and etc., and the private aspect being about writing.
I sure understand the difference after Greenville and I know that I’m a lot better with Private Booklife than with Public Booklife. There is a mind-shift that has to occur between the two and it’s difficult to engage in much Private Booklife while in the throes of Public Booklife activities. Complicating matters is the fact that I’m just too much of an introvert to be comfortable hawking my writing, although Jeff’s book addresses this and gives us introverts some potential solutions. (That’s why I wish I’d had the book then, but, better late than not.)
While I found the book useful on many levels, the most intriguing idea presented was a chapter within the short Booklife Gut-Check section in the middle. The chapter is called “Multitasking and Fragmentation” and it introduces the idea of open channels. While Jeff focuses primarily on the internet when discussing open channels, really an open channel can be anything you have to devote mental energy to, even when not actively engaged in the channel. Each online account you have to check on regularly is an open channel, things like email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Extrapolating further into the rest of life, which is something I’ve been considering since reading the chapter, I see other open channels. Each book I’m currently reading is an open channel, as is each art or writing project. Work is its own open channel, along with all the open channels associated with work. The antique shop space Erik and I lease is an open channel. Ongoing household tasks are open channels. Each relationship I have that I want to maintain is an open channel.
Obviously, we all have lots of open channels. Open channels are not a bad thing. They make life worth living. However, if there are too many open channels in one’s life, they can throw a person off-balance.
That’s why, when I’ve tried to start a second blog, it doesn’t typically work for me. It takes too much mental energy to keep up with more than one blog, let along the time it takes to sit down and write posts for more multiple blogs.
Every so often, when I feel as though I have too many open channels, I start finding ways to close down a few so I can retrieve my peace of mind.
Have you ever had the sense that you’ve had too many open channels? What do you do when that happens? What do you think of the metaphor of open channels, rather than other ways we think of being too busy?